Saturday, February 27, 2016

Politics Of Writing

Some of the advice given to authors is to never talk about politics, but it is a fact of life. It is unavoidable unless we all develop an apathy toward the future. Whenever there are different factions, districts, states, or countries, you will find people who disagree. So let's argue about politics! Specifically I want to talk about how it relates to writing. No matter how the political structure of the world is set up there are a few universal tenants that help define the politics of the situation. Like running from Godzilla is pretty universal.

Politics are an important building block of world building for a writer. It can be as small as a difference of opinion or philosophy of 2 characters. It can be the reason behind large Star Wars sized conflicts. Luke, I thought about being your step-father, but I decided 'Nah.' You ate too much Storm Trooper at the feast on Endor! Politics don't always come into play within the pages of a book, but it would be hard to imagine a dystopian science fiction novel that doesn't mention it. A large fantasy epic that depicts large scale wars of magic and creatures of legend would feel flat without it.


Political conflict isn't like most. It's a conflict of ideas. Sometimes it is an argument over the method of how to solve a problem. Two factions may agree on the problem and agree on the desired outcome, but argue over how to best achieve that solution. It could be an old feud based on an ancient perceived wronging that never actually happened. The conflict could be an alien armada attacking Earth intent on eradicating all life so they can harvest the planet's resources. This is the reasoning behind wars. TV shows like Game of Thrones profit off of political conflict. It is the nectar that pulls people in to watch. Trust me, a show about Ren & Stimpy invading the Smurf village would be golden.

This type of conflict can be framed so many ways that it makes my writerly senses tingle, or maybe that's just a rash. I should get that checked shouldn't I? There are civil rights conflicts. Should the government intrude on my civil liberties in order to protect me from physical harm? Fighting over resources. Should food grown here be shipped elsewhere for other people's benefit when there are citizens starving right here? Border disputes. Mary keeps on touching me, tell her to stay on her side! Fighting over Care Bears. It's so fluffy, I must have it!

The way this conflict is fought has just as many angles. A blockade or trade embargo on a country could cripple them if they rely on basic necessities from foreign lands. Economic sanctions or fines can be imposed. Anything you can think of up to an including war could be a result. I wonder how a trade embargo of PEZ on China would effect the price of tea? Hmmm...


The larger the scale of conflict the more you see alliances form. People of like minds, but separate followings, could join forces to combat the threat as they see it. They may not agree on everything, but they need the help to win. They may even despise each other. The enemy of my enemy is my friend? Perhaps they are, but perhaps they are a larger evil who plans to betray their allies once they have served their purpose.

There are many forms of alliances that can be formed as well. Political alliances could work together to promote the same idea. Trade alliances could strain a relationship if meddled with. Hornath trades grain to Limintas exclusively. Hornath's economy would collapse without gold from Limintas and the people of Limintas would starve without Hornath's grain. All too often we think of military alliances, but other alliances could also strain relationships. Limintas might loathe the people of Hornath for eating the slornith which is a beloved family pet and even worshiped by some in Limintas. They may choose to invade rather than continue to fund what they think of as sacrilegious.


Politics play a major role in much of the fiction that I enjoy. It is a major theme in many of my favorite series of books. Dystopian worlds set in the future have dominated my reading list whether it is The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Maze Runner series, or the Silo series. I also enjoy large scale fantasy works with The Wheel Of Time being one of my favorites. I'm currently reading Bats of the Republic which is a mash up of historical and dystopian future fiction which I have been enjoying thus far. The politics of the land have a major impact on all of these. My own novel is influenced heavily by the politics of a seemingly utopian world government that has eliminated war by moving it to a virtual reality. See? The politics are everywhere! Run!

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